Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Smoking Manhole Covers at City Hall

The private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric, was founded in 1905 from a conglomeration of gas, electric and water companies, and since then it has exercised monopoly control over energy sources and distribution in most of Northern California.

In its quest for ever greater profits, the corporation seems to be maintaining its aging infrastructure with the guiding philosophy, "If it hasn't blown up yet, why fix it?"

On Monday afternoon, smoke was noticed emerging from manhole covers in front of City Hall on Polk Street, so the area was closed for the next 8 hours with yellow tape and a big "CLSOED" typo on its signage.

As usual, nobody knew what was causing the problem, and whether or not it was related to the explosion last month about five blocks up the street at Polk and O'Farrell.

At 7PM, there were crowds of firemen, policemen, PG&E workers and management milling around.

The scene was reminiscent of a movie set where there are always lots of people waiting around for somebody to finish their job, and all the guys were even in costume.

According to Eve Batey at SF Appeal,
"Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spokesman David Eisenhauer said PG&E waited for the fire department to deem the situation safe before sending investigators underground. Crews managed to isolate a faulty cable that produced the smoke in an underground vault, Eisenhauer said."

The San Francisco Chronicle didn't even bother to mention the incident in today's newspaper. I guess columnist C.W. Nevius' attack on recycling scavengers was considered more important.

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